Not So Graceful

Rodney Warner
Rodney Warner

Everyone has their own personality and cancer finds you as you are.  Cancer treatment brings with it maybe more stress than you’ve ever felt before in your life.

Bob Riter recently wrote a blog about living with grace while dealing with cancer.  I agree with him that ideally, we should all live with grace, whether or not we have cancer.  We should, as best we can, reach out and help others, make others’ days as positive as we can.  Cancer and its treatment makes you feel like your life is spinning out of control.  Reaching out and helping others brings power to your life at a time when you feel powerless.

It’s something to shoot for, but realistically, not something that should be expected.  Not only can we feel physically ill and exhausted but emotionally drained.  Expecting all cancer patients to be “gracious”, living life to the fullest, being eternally helpful, just shouldn’t be expected.

The best book I ever read about dealing with cancer is The Human Side of Cancer, written by Jimmie Holland, MD, a psychiatrist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.  She writes that forcing a patient to be “gracious” if that’s not how he/she normally would be will do more harm than good.  In addition to facing the challenges that cancer presents, it would force the person to change his/her personality.  You can read chapter two of the book online.  Its title is The Tyranny of Positive Thinking.

So do what works for you, grumpy, pissed off, angry, scared, positive, gracious.  I imagine most cancer patients feel all those things at some point.  In the immortal words of John Lennon, whatever gets you through the night is all right.

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